28 Days 2013

John 18

S) “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove and he and his disciples went into it” (John 18:1).

O)  The warning and promise of John (16:33) is followed by Jesus’ longest prayer in the Gospels, (Jn. 17). Jesus prays for himself, for the eleven disciples and finishes by praying “for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). As soon as Jesus concludes his intercession he continues to walk out the plan sealed before the creation itself.

U)  Intercession is the act of petitioning God or praying on behalf of another person or group. It is marked by selfless concern for the reconciliation of those separated from the Creator. I am one whose life was impacted by Jesus’ prayer, though it was spoken thousands of years ago. I am a sinner saved by grace. I once boasted, “Who needs God anyway?” To which I can only look back in shame. For a classic example of biblical intercession, see Abraham speaking to God in Genesis 18. In an incredible exchange, Abraham intercedes for the entire city of Sodom.  “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Say, if only ten righteous people can be found?  Or in what can only be described as sublime, Jesus on the Cross asks the Father to forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Who do you suppose is included in the “them” and the “they?”

L) I guess someone could make the case that this was all nothing but a colossal failure; after all Jesus did: the healing, the feeding and let’s not forget that he raised people from the dead.  Surely if anyone could save himself it would be him.  And in the next chapter those very words where directed to the Son of Man.  Not everyone sees the passion of Christ, his arrest, his trial, his punishment and his death on the Cross as a victory. What the world fails to “see” is revealed in vs. 18:4 “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and  . . . “  What unfolds from here on out can only be understood through the lens of faith; the gift of God in Christ Jesus.  Lord, let us not miss the priority of intercession, the importance of obedience and the extravagant love on display as Jesus nears the Cross.  Let us not somehow maneuver around the Cross with its gruesome wickedness, or try to avoid the discomfort that accompanies the conviction of sin or for any other reasons. Nor should we in any way leave Jesus on Roman Cross and deny the resurrection as some have been known to do.  Rather, allow us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.  And behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Bring us out into a spacious place from which we can pursue you Lord with the passion that took our place.  In the Name of Jesus, amen 

Day 26

Jeremiah 2:13 (ETRV) 13 "My people have done two evil things. They turned away from me, and they dug their own water cisterns. I am the source of living water; those cisterns are broken and cannot hold water.

Israel had committed two sins. The first was one of omission: she had forsaken her God.
Her second sin was one of commission: she had replaced her true God with false idols.

Man’s heart, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Using imagery that those residing in Judah would understand, Jeremiah compared the nation’s actions to someone abandoning a spring of living (running) water for broken cisterns. The most reliable and refreshing sources of water in Israel were her natural springs. This water was dependable; and its clear, cool consistency was satisfying. In contrast, the most unreliable source of water was cisterns. Cisterns were large pits dug into the rock and covered with plaster. These pits were used to gather rainwater. This water was brackish; and if the rains were below normal, it could run out. Worse yet, if a cistern developed a crack it would not hold the water. To turn from a dependable, pure stream of running water to a broken, brackish cistern was idiotic. Yet that is what Judah did when she turned from God to idols.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.

Why would people dig their own cisterns rather than seek the living water from God?  There are a number of reasons I can think of but I'll list a few.

We abandon God because of a desire for control. 
When we depend on God's provisions it does not always happen the way we want it to and we get frustrated.  Not that God has ever failed to provide for us, but we sometimes want it now and want something different than what we need, so we take matters into our own hands.

We abandon God sometimes without even intending to do so. 
We just get busy with other things and pretty soon we are not drinking from the living water but we getting a drink wherever we can, and usually that is not the pure stuff so it affects us.

We abandon God because we allow the things to substitute for God. 
We would rather shop, work, do some Facebooking, exercise...instead of seeking God and spending time with Him.

Are there areas in your life where you are like the Israelites?  You have replaced God with cruddy imitations.  Let's altar (surrender) our substitutes and take hold of the real thing.  God desires your complete attention, He wants to be number one.  Will you truly make Him the Lord of your life?

Day 25

Hebrews 11:6 ...without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Abraham was definitely not perfect but he certainly is a good example to us of choosing to believe in the promises of God.  Abraham heard God speak to him to leave his family, his home and his country and go to a place that God said would be given to him and his descendants.  So, Abraham, acted on the command believing that God would be true to his word.  The truth is that Abraham and Sarah did not even have kids, so they are leaving everything behind to go to a strange and foreign land so that they and their descendants could inherit this land that God had promised?  What descendants?  But Abraham believed that God was as good as His Word, so he responded as though what God had said was as good as done.

Along the way he had moments of doubt, but those moments were never enough for him to turn his back on the promises of God.  Abraham surrendered his present situation because he remained confident that God's Word was true.  That was pleasing to God.

What are the promises God has given you about your future?  Are you living as though they are real even if we haven't seen signs of it yet?

God promises that one day His Son will come again to take us to heaven - are you living by faith of that promise?

God promises that this world is not our home, we are pilgrims in this land.  Our home is heaven and we must live today with heaven in mind.  Do our actions and choices point to our belief that we are just passing through or do we live as though this life is all we have?


Day 24

Philippians 3:4-11

A lot of us find our identity in things like our heritage, ethnicity, education, our social standing, bank accounts, etc.  We somehow think that these are the important things of life.  In our passage today the apostle Paul tells us that our confidence, identity and boast should be in Christ alone.  As Christ-followers we are to surrender these claims to identity to Christ and instead be identified as being in Christ. 

In Christ we are forgiven. 
In Christ we are given a new name and a new future. 
In Christ we are called to serve. 
In Christ we are made new, the old identity is gone. 
In Christ we are chosen and set apart to do the work that the Holy Spirit will direct us to do.

The worldly credentials are nothing special because when we are in Christ we are operating by a whole different currency.  The old credentials don't apply any more.  Compared to what we have in Christ the old currency is rubbish, good for nothing but to be thrown out.

Time to change our thinking and live in the kingdom of heaven where the currency is being in Christ.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) 17 ...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!


Psalm 145

Because of who God is we can trust Him and surrender our lives to Him.


It is a worthwhile exercise to do as David did and speak out loud (extol) the praises of God because not only is it pleasing to God, it also reminds us of the God who is our Father. Why not take a moment to speak out loud these attributes of God and allow the implications of them to sink in.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The LORD opens his hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
The LORD fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him

Day 20

Joshua 4:So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

God is faithful and merciful to us.  He provides, He protects, He makes a way where there seems to be no way.  We have experienced all of those things and more on a daily basis in our lives and many of us take them for granted, and worst, we forget. 

Today in our reading we see God instructing Joshua to have the people build an altar - a touchpoint so that they will not forget what God did for them on that day.  The altar was to serve as a reminder not only for the current generation but for the generations to come.  Without it it would be easy to forget and take God for granted.

We need altars today.  Touchpoints that remind us of the goodness and mercy of God.  It will help us on days when the circumstances look bleak.  It will be an opportunity to speak of God's provision and protection with our children when they ask us what is that monument.  Be careful to not make the altar the object of worship...it is not sacred, it is simply a signpost pointing us to God.

One of the best ways to build altars is to speak of the faithfulness of God when you gather together with the community of believers.  Why not do that this week when you meet with others.  Share how you have experienced the goodness and grace of God.
God is good and His mercy endures forever.

Day 19

Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Anger, whether righteous or unrighteous, can lead to sin.

Paul tells us as Christ-followers that we are new creatures in Christ...the old man is dead and we have been made alive in Christ.  The problem is that while we are now new creations we are still living in this garment of flesh that is prone to sinning.  Sometimes we allow the flesh to dictate our actions instead of letting our new nature dictate our actions.  We let old habits go unchecked instead of developing new habits in keeping with our new life.  One such habit is the tendency to hold unforgiveness or a grudge.  Paul tells us that this is allowing the garment to dictate the action instead of us dictating what we should do.  A child of God, who has experienced the love and grace of God, will not harbor unforgiveness but will choose to forgive and not give the devil a foothold in our lives.  He is never satisfied with a foothold - he wants total body domination.  When we get angry and stay angry, hold grudges or harbor unforgiveness we end up taking the dead man out of the grave and performing CPR on him, trying desperately to revive him.  Sure we are not perfect as long as we live in this mortal body but we must crucify (kill off) the old habits and allow God to form His thoughts and character fully in us.

Is there someone that you have unresolved conflict with that is causing you to walk in sin?  Why not do something about it today?

Day 18

1 John 1: This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.

6-7 If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.

He is the embodiment of everything true.  He is truth perfected.  When we look at God we have the real deal and when we know the real article we can never be duped with counterfeits.  God is light and we should hold everything up to the light.

When John says that God is light he is talking about the representation of the truth of God as seen in His Word.  We catch a glimpse of The Light when we read and study the Word of God.  That will always give us what we need to spot the counterfeit.

But light is also linked to moral conduct and virtue.  When we become children of the Light, as Paul tells us in Ephesians then we should walk as children of the light.  That means we should show evidence of the Spirit working in our lives.  The fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience…  

So John tells us that if we are children of the Light, (in the Light) we cannot be hating our brother or sister, that is a contradiction.  If there is no fruit being produced we are not in the Light as we profess.  If we are not reflecting the Light and living in fellowship with one another then no matter what we say we have not experienced salvation.  Now it doesn't mean that we act perfectly but what we have is a God-placed desire for and a continual striving towards the perfection of the revealed Truth

Day 17

Acts 2: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

To devote means to give up all or a large part of our time and resources to a person, cause or activity.

From the passage we read, the believers devoted themselves to learning the Word of God by listening to the apostles teaching.  They devoted themselves to each other, to remembering and rehearsing the Lord's sacrifice on the cross in the partaking of communion and they devoted themselves to prayer.  They gave a large part of their time and resources for these things. 

What would devoting ourselves to the fellowship look like?  What if we made it a priority to meet regularly with God's people for the sake of encouraging, strengthening, helping each other to grow spiritually?  No excuses like "we just don't have time," or "I'm just too tired."  I believe we will experience a revolution in our lives and we will start a revolution.  Try it.  If you are not in a GROW group join one and devote yourself to doing life together with other believers. See what happens.


Day 16

1 John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

John addresses his audience as beloved, let us love one another.  Another way of saying it would be, "Those of us who are have experienced love should love one another." 

The word for love comes from the greek word agape which is love that is self-sacrificing, serving one another, a love granted to someone who needs to be loved and not necessarily someone  who is attractive and/or lovable.  I am sure we know a few people like that.

We are to love one another in this "agape" way because it is the way that God loved us.  And as children of God who now live in love we are to manifest that very nature of God in our lives.  We must love others the way God loved us.  Choosing to sacrifice for them, serve them and love them not because of anything they can give to us, but because loving them is in our very nature.

This way of loving would go a long way in dealing with others in the family of God, wouldn't it?  Imagine how amazing the fellowship of believers would be if we loved in that fashion.  The world around would sit up and take notice - and they will know we are Christians by our love!